How to edit photos for FREE

Monday, December 3, 2018

If you are like me-- most 'skills' are constantly a work in progress. Photography is no exception. I have been blogging and taking pictures for a little over 3 years and I am by no means an expert but I've learned a few tricks that have helped my photos dramatically and thought it would be fun to share them with you!

I am usually the one behind the camera taking pictures of my home's decor or my latest DIY project but most recently I tried my hand at taking our family Christmas pictures. This is usually something I leave to the pros but timing and budget made getting professional pictures taken this holiday season a bit difficult so I decided to do it myself!

I know that these pictures may not be the most professional or high quality/resolution but they are all I need to capture a family memory this year and good enough to use for a Christmas card!


The most important tip I have for any type of photography is lighting. This is just my preference but I always rely on natural light when taking pictures whether it be pictures of my home or, in this case, pictures of my family. Natural light is key!


Equipment is another important part of photography but you don't need to run out and spend thousands of dollars on a professional camera just yet- your phone can most likely do the job! For this specific situation I was taking pictures of my family- including our 20 month old son who doesn't really understand the concept of 'sit still'- and I was given a tip to take a video and then pause to find a great picture and screenshot it. It WORKS!

Editing Software/Apps

Photo Editing software/apps are another key part of the photo editing process. Since I still consider myself a 'beginner' I have not invested in any high tech photo editing software- I simply use a free app called Snapseed and it has been a game changer when editing my photos.

Let's get started!

The first thing I did was change the camera settings on my phone to make sure videos were recorded in 4K at 60 FPS. This is the highest resolution option available for my phone and allowed me to capture a photo via video based on it's high resolution.

I won't go into all the details of picture taking but we basically set the phone up on our dresser to record- making sure that the focus was on the bed and just did some occasional poses and tried to get our little one to smile here and there hoping that in that time we'd get a shot we could pause on to screenshot.

Once the video was taken and I had chosen a screenshot it was time to edit! My editing is nearly always the same with a few tweaks here and there.

The first thing I did was go into tools and select the 'crop' feature to remove the extra background. I actually do not normally crop my photos and I try to capture images exactly how I like them but for this family photo I was taking a video that included a lot of extra background.

Snapseed allows you to choose many different sizes that can be changed between portrait and landscape using the rotate tool.

Once, the photo was cropped I went to the 'brush' feature and increased the exposure. Snapseed allows you to adjust the amount of exposure between levels .5, .7 and 1.0 and allows you to zoom in to do very specific areas (I love that!). For this picture, I chose level .7 and I brushed the entire picture except for the window where it was already bright.

Now that the picture was much brighter I went into the 'Tune Image' section to play around with different aspects of the photo.

In this particular photo, I simply needed to up the brightness a bit. When you're in this particular section you can simply move up and down to go between the various tuning instruments and slide right and left to increase or decrease whatever you're editing. A lot of times I will decrease contrast a bit, decrease shadows and maybe even decrease warmth to lose some of the yellow that some lighting can create. For this picture, again, I simply needed to up brightness a bit.

Next, I wanted to 'sharpen' my image so I went into the 'details' section of tools and selected 'sharpening'.

I am no expert but this tool simply makes things a little more 'crisp', if that makes sense. This has become especially important when taking photos of my home when I want tiny details to stand out. Think of it as going from seeing a yard, to seeing blades of grass.

The last thing I did was go back to the brush tool to bring out some pops of color with the 'saturation' feature. Again, you can choose the level of the brush- for this particular picture I moved it down to +5 and then brushed the sign above the bed and our jammies.

Then, I simply saved a copy of the picture (so that I would have the new version plus the original) and I was all done!

Here is a complete before and after for you!

It is truly amazing what a little photo editing from a free app can do for pictures! I know that some people have different preferences for lighting, equipment and editing tools but this is simply what has worked for me!

Here is a reveal of our Family Christmas Card (you'll see I used a different picture than the ones I was editing above- I found a better one while I was creating this tutorial and going through the video!)

I would love to hear any tips or tricks that you have for editing photos! Share them with me in the comments below!

As always, Thank you for visiting R&R at home!


  1. Beautiful family photo. I am going to checkout that app thank you for sharing.
    Merry Christmas, Kippi

    1. Thank you! The app has definitely been a game changer for me!

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